Victor J. Stenger dies

08.30.2014

The physicist and popular science writer Victor J. Stenger died on August 27, 2014, at the age of 79, according to the Friendly Atheist blog (August 29, 2014). Toward the end of his long career as a research scientist, Stenger began devoting his efforts toward popular writing. He continued explaining physics and arguing for atheism long after retiring from his academic career. Among his works (all published by Prometheus Books) were Not by Design (1988), Physics and Psychics (1990), The Unconscious Quantum (1995), Timeless Reality (2000), Has Science Found God? (2003), The Comprehensible Cosmos (2006), God: The Failed Hypothesis (2007), Quantum Gods (2009), The New Atheism (2009), The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning (2011), God and the Folly of Faith (2012), and God and the Atom (2013). A final book, God and the Multiverse, is forthcoming in 2014.

Stenger was a consistent and vehement opponent of creationism in all of its forms. In his "Physics, Cosmology, and the New Creationism," his contribution to Andrew J. Petto and Laurie R. Godfrey's Scientists Confront Creationism: Intelligent Design and Beyond (2007), for example, he contended, "Modern variations of the ancient argument from design form the basis of the new creationism — so-called 'intelligent design' theory. These arguments amount to nothing really new and are just restatements — in ostensibly more sophisticated language of the common-sense view — that the universe and life appear to be too complex to have happened without supernatural intervention. However, the new creationism poses as science. Despite their pretense of scientific legitimacy, several of the claims of this new 'science' are provably wrong" (emphasis in original).

Stenger was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, on January 29, 1935. He received a B.S. in electrical engineering from Newark College of Engineering in 1956, followed by a M.S. in 1958 and a Ph.D. in physics in 1963 from the University of California, Los Angeles. He was a member of the Department of Physics at the University of Hawaii from 1963 to 2000, with stints visiting at the University of Heidelberg, Oxford University, and the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Italy. After he retired from the University of Hawaii, he was adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado. A Fellow of the Center for Inquiry and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, he served as president of the Hawaii Humanists from 1990 to 1994 (and was named the Hawaii Humanist of the Year in 1992) and as president of Colorado Citizens for Science from 2002 to 2006.